Supply of medicines in Denmark

22 July 2019

The Danish Medicines Agency is receiving an increasing number of enquiries regarding problems with the supply of certain medicines in Denmark. The supply shortage is not critical but it is challenging and an inconvenience for the general public, medical professionals and pharmacies alike. The Danish Medicines Agency is monitoring developments and working with other authorities and stakeholders both in Denmark and abroad to remedy the issues. 

The Danish Medicines Agency has recently received a number of enquiries from the general public, medical professionals and pharmacies regarding problems with the supply of medicines; for instance, drugs which have been discontinued or are on back order when the patient comes to the pharmacy to pick them up. 

The Danish Medicines Agency has not yet received any reports of serious, critical supply shortages. However, medicine shortages are an inconvenience and time consuming for the public, doctors and pharmacies alike. 

In many cases, the pharmacy will be able to circumvent the shortage of a specific medicine by providing an equivalent alternative. Doctors are also usually able to prescribe a viable alternative. Moreover, when there are shortages, doctors and hospital departments can apply to the Danish Medicines Agency for a compassionate use permit for a medicine, which is not marketed in Denmark – either for use in a hospital department or for a pharmacy to supply directly to the patient. 

The authorities’ work with medicine supply

There may be several reasons for disruptions in supply, and the problem is usually global. For instance, there may be a shortage of the raw materials used in the medicine, disruption of a supplier’s production, miscalculation of the balance between supply and demand, or issues when a supplier replaces production equipment. Brief supply shortages are therefore not unusual.

The Danish Medicines Agency works continually with other authorities and stakeholders to avoid critical disruptions to supply. In addition to issuing compassionate use permits to doctors and hospitals, as mentioned above, the Danish Medicines Agency provides pharmacies with information on available medicines. Furthermore, wholesalers of medicinal products have a continuing obligation to report shortages of supplies of reimbursable medicines on the Danish market. 

The Danish Medicines Agency maintains close dialogue on the supply situation with operators on the market. These include other medicines agencies within the EU, the Danish Regions’ procurement organisation, AMGROS, wholesalers, the Association of Danish Pharmacies and the Danish Medical Association. This dialogue focuses on communication regarding the supply situation and coordination between the parties.